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Varnishing soft wood

I have a very soft knotty pine dining table. It is so soft you cannot even use it to write on without it indenting the wood. I am refinishing it & need to know what I can use to varnish it so that it dries hard enough to allow it to be used instead of just looked at. I have minwax superior durability polyurethane that I have experimented on another piece of wood (3 coats) & it is not hard enough. Any suggestions??

Re: Varnishing soft wood

I wonder if "Behlen's Rock Hard Tabletop Varnish" would answer your need. I have used it. It smells of tung oil, is slow drying and is very amber in color. But it dries fairly hard. Now you will have the best results if you thin the first coat 25% with mineral spirits so that it can really soak in.
You may still need to avail yourself of a blotter to write the checks.

Re: Varnishing soft wood

I do not recommend Minwax finishes ever. First strip the finish and sand smooth, the follow Sombreuil_mongrel' suggestion and thin your finish, apply and rub in to get penetration into the wood fibers, I would suggest two coats of the thinned finish. Sand with 220 grit paper and follow with a minimum of 3 coats of hard poly, usually rated for floor use. I recommend OldMasters brand.


Re: Varnishing soft wood

If the pine is as soft as you say, I doubt that mere coats of urethane are going to give you sufficient surface strength. Just as you do not put laminate over plywood because of plywoods inablilty to support the laminate when struck, thus allowing it to dent, the thin varnish will also dent over the soft pine.

You might consider a poured on type catalysed type finish, often called decoupage. You have probably seen these type finishes in restaurants or bars, usually with objects such as playing cards embedded in them. The surface must be dead level at time of application. If a relatively thin coat is desired, it can be allowed to simply drip over the edge. Often the edge is dammed up when a thicker coat is desired. The material comes in to equal parts which are mixed together to start the reaction. It has the consistancy of honey. If there is a complaint with the material, it is that it results in a somewhat plastic look, but it is extremely durable.

Re: Varnishing soft wood

Thank you so much for your help. I will definitely be following your advice & am going to try using the poly rated for floors. I appreciate this!

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